How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

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The harvesting season is upon us, when the fruits of our labors are finally producing their last for the summer season. I want to share with you how to harvest your sunflower seeds so you can replant them next year


The harvesting season is upon us, when the fruits of our labors are finally producing their last for the summer season. I want to share with you how to harvest your sunflower seeds so you can replant them next year. First thing I do is monitor the flower heads on your sunflowers daily when they begin to wilt. They are ready to harvest when the back sides of the heads are yellow and start turning brown. Sunflowers to me are so majestic and beautiful! I love the look of them. Trevor & I enjoy planting them on our fence lines as a hedge wall for our neighbors. They add height and so much color in our garden area. Getting the seeds to take is easy but to me the clean up and getting the garden ready for winter takes a little but more time. This is my guide that I follow for harvesting the sunflower seeds to use year after year.

How to harvest sunflower seeds? Here are the steps:

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Advice from a sunflower: “ Be bright sunny and positive. Spread seeds of happiness. Rise, Shine, and Hold your head high”

Here is my guide & favorite quote to growing sunflowers that I have learned in my few years of homesteading.

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  1. Cut the sunflower head off of the plant when the backside of the flower is brown and wilty. Lay the sunflower heads in an area where they can dry out preferably in the sun I lay mine on the back-porch table (just watch out for fall storms this will not be good for the sunflowers as this will add to the moisture content when you want to dry the seeds out. I would suggest bringing them indoors or in a barn to protect the sunflowers from getting too much moisture in the event of a storm.

  2. It has been suggested that you can put the sunflower heads in brown paper bags. The bag keeps ripening seeds from falling out. Don’t use a plastic bag. Plastic won’t allow the flower head to breathe, causing mold to develop. Leave the paper bag in place while the sunflower dies back completely.

  3. Check the bagged sunflower head every day. Shake it vigorously. You’ll hear loose seeds rattling around inside the bag. Open the bag and feel the flower head for dryness. Brush your fingers lightly over a few of the seeds in the head. If they fall off easily, they’re ready for storage. Or check your sunflowers that are laying on a table drying out as I do. It usually does not take more than a few days for the seeds to dry out and you can store for the winter.

  4. At this point when the seeds are dry they easily fall out of the flower you can harvest the seeds. Hold the flower head over a colander. Rub the palm of your hand briskly against the seeds, which will pop right out of the bloom. Rinse the seeds thoroughly with cool running water. Allow them to drain freely for about 5 minutes.

  5. Lay some clean newspapers in the bottom of a shallow cardboard box and cover the newspapers with paper towels. Spread the sunflower seeds out loosely in a single layer on the paper toweling, leaving plenty of space between them to allow for good air circulation. Allow them to dry at room temperature overnight. Do this immediately after rinsing to prevent the seeds from molding and spread out leaving enough room for the seeds to dry completely.

  6. Pick out and discard any plant material or debris. Sort through the sunflower seeds and pick out the plumpest ones, which are the most likely to be viable. Keep them separate from the rest of the batch.

  7. Put the sunflower seeds in a paper envelope. Label it clearly with the variety and date. Then seal the envelope in an airtight plastic container and store it in a cool, dry spot until you’re ready to plant. The germination capability of a seed declines with age – the freshest seeds are more likely to germinate.

 

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Homesteading tip:

Goats LOVE sunflowers, the whole plant. When I cut the heads off I pull the sunflowers out of the ground and I toss the rest of the plant into the goats & chicken pens. They love the treats and it is full circle with no waste of your summer harvest.

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